Time to look ahead to Sunday's decider! Rob Crosby has a full look at both teams and what to expect ...
15 hours ago
Fulltime score: Cronulla Sharks 24 defeat South Sydney 22
The Cronulla Sharks have posted their first win of 2006 narrowly defeating the South Sydney Rabbitohs 24-22 in breezy conditions at Toyota Park tonight.
With a strong wind at their backs in the first half, the Sharks opened the scoring after just one minute when Souths made an error from the kickoff. Souths struck back in the 17th minute to make it 6-all.
Sharks scored three times between the 30th and 40th minutes, including a decisive blow right on halftime, to post a commanding half time lead of 20-6.
With a favourable breeze in the second half, Souths showed some good ball control to get back into the match, scoring in the 50th minute to narrow the margin to eight. But poor defence allowed the opposition to make inroads and the Sharks added an unconverted try in the 59th minute.
Souths continued to make a contest of it with a try in the 65th minute before posting a consolation try in the final minute of play.
Referee: Shayne Hayne
Cronulla Sutherland Sharks: 24
Tries: Phil Bailey, Beau Scott, Lance Thompson, Luke Douglas, Tevita Latu
Goals: Luke Covell 2/5
South Sydney Rabbitohs: 22
Tries: Todd Polglase, John Sutton, Nathan Merritt, Paul Mellor
Goals: Joe Williams 2/2, Nathan Merritt 1/2
Teams coming onto the field with outside back Adam MacDougall and halfback Joe Williams making their first 2006 appearances for the understrength South Sydney.
Sharks forward Ben Ross will be playing this game with a fractured cheek bone. Sharks have a strong wind in the first half after Souths win the toss and elect to run against the breeze. Sharks to kick off...
1 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Centre Beau Scott scores out wide for Sharks. Souths make a blunder receiving from kick off, going into touch. Sharks score in the following play. Luke Covell converts from the sideline.
13 min: Possible try to Sharks. Video ref checking...
VERDICT: NO TRY. David Simmons busted through some ordinary defence and put the ball down under the posts. But he fumbled it in the one-handed put down. Poor finish to a nice move. Souths marker defence leaving a lot to be desired.
17 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Souths fullback Todd Polglase scores next to the posts. The Rabbitohs strike back and its all evens Conversion from Joe Williams is OK.
25 min: Possible try to Sharks. Video ref checking...
VERDICT: After an eternity the video ref rules NO TRY, the player Luke Douglas deemed to have fallen short. Play the ball is the ruling.
25 min: Yet another possible try to Sharks. Video ref checking...
VERDICT: NO TRY. Five-eighth Adam Dykes ruled to have made a double movement. Penalty to Souths.
30 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Douglas not denied this time. Set up by Dykes who worked away from dummy half, Douglas shows some neat footwork to step through the defence and score next to the posts.
Converted by Covell.
37 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Tevita Latu crashes over 15m in from touch. Adam Dykes again featuring in the lead up work as the South Sydney line cracks again.
40 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Lance Thompson scores wide of the ruck. A killer blow for Souths. Covell's conversion attempt goes across the face of goal.
Half time: Sharks 20-6
Souths will have the wind in the second half but whether or not this is worth 14 points remains to be seen.
Some dispute in the lead-up to the last try as Souths supporters were appealing for a penalty moments earlier following a dangerous tackle on fullback Polglase.
Adam Dykes in great form for Sharks with a top kicking game and getting plenty of support on the edge of the ruck. Shannon Hegarty and John Sutton are Souths' best.
Players on the field and second half underway...
47 min: NEWS NO TRY - Sharks denied after back rower Reece Williams loses the ball while crashing through. Souths fulback Polglase copping a hammering as Souths forwards are simply opening up.
50 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Five-eighth John Sutton scores after winger Nathan Merritt drew in two defenders up the middle of the park, opening up a yawning gap for Sutton who raced through from 25m out.
Williams converts from almost in front.
59 min: TRY Cronulla Sutherland Sharks
Phil Bailey scores out wide for the Sharks after Brett Kimmorley takes full advantage of of a broken defensive line and grubbers into the in-goal.
Conversion attempt from Covell misses.
64 min: Possible Souths try. Video ref checking....
VERDICT: NO TRY. After Kimmorley knocked on behind the line, Hegarty was unable to cleaning regather to score. Goal line drop out.
65 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Winger Paul Mellor scores for Souths after a beaut flick pass from Polglase. Mellor improves his position to score 15m in from touch.
Conversion attempt from Merritt is waved away.
75 min: NEWS Souths penalised for a high tackle on Darren Albert. Sharks get the penalty and are deep in Rabbitohs territory.
39 min: TRY South Sydney Rabbitohs
Merritt scores a late try in the corner for Souths after they put on some dazzling football. Merriit kicks the conversion from the sideline.
Fulltime: Sharks 24-22.
An entertaining comeback towards the end from Souths but Sharks get home with a wet sail and post their first win of the year, the try just before halftime proving decisive.
Sharks still have some work to do with ball control and poor completions while Souths, despite showing some good skills in the second half, have to play for the entire 80 minutes. In all, Souths missed 38 tackles which has to be addressed if they want to make an impression in 2006.
Leagueunlimited.com players of the match:
3 - Adam Dykes (Sharks)
2 - Todd Polglase (Rabbitohs)
1 - John Sutton (Rabbitohs)